Update July 7: State recreational water quality officials have lifted the water quality swimming advisory after water testing showed that bacteria levels have dropped below the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards set for swimming and water play.
Visitors and residents at Holden Beach are being advised against swimming at one of the town’s oceanfront public beach accesses after state tests found fecal bacteria levels in the water that exceed state and federal recreational water quality standards.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Recreational Water Quality section on Thursday posted a swimming advisory at the end of Jordan Boulevard after test results of samples collected in that area showed a monthly average of enterococci exceeded state and federal standards.
The advisory is only for waters within 200 feet of the sign, according to a division news release.
Five water samples collected within a 30-day period of that area indicated a running monthly average of 37 enterococci per 100 milliliters, which exceeds N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recreational water quality standards, running monthly average of 35 enterococci per 100 milliliters.
Enterococci are bacteria that live in the intestines of warm-blooded animals as well as humans that, in levels higher than water quality standards, may increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness or skin infections in humans.
Testing will continue at the site and, once the levels are down, state officials will remove the sign and notify the public.
The state samples recreational waters at 215 sites, most once a week, throughout the coastal region from April to October. Testing continues through the remainder of the year, but on a less frequent basis.
A map of testing sites may be found on DEQ’s website.